Awesome History

A Brief History of Home Video

A Brief History of Home Video

These days, most content is streamed. But there was a time when videotapes were the media of choice. Mental Floss takes a trip in the wayback machine to tell the story of VCRs, the epic war between Betamax and VHS, and how the technologies changed everything for visual entertainment.

Defunctland: Garfield’s Nightmare

Defunctland: Garfield’s Nightmare

Defunctland creator Kevin Perjurer delves deep into the history of a strange Garfield-themed theme park ride. Garfield’s Nightmare operated as an overlay on an old Tunnel of Love ride at Kennywood’s Old Mill in Mifflin, PA. There’s lots of backstory before Garfield shows up, but it’s a fascinating watch for theme park fans.

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The History of Animatronic Restaurants

The History of Animatronic Restaurants

Restaurants like Showbiz and Chuck E. Cheese’s were staples of suburban childhood in the ’80s and ’90s. Beyond the arcades and mediocre pizza, these places also featured audio-animatronic musicians. Snellby Reviews looks back at the history of these restaurants, and their sad fate in the 2000s. Part two here.

Did Cavemen Ever Really Exist?

Did Cavemen Ever Really Exist?

We all have a pretty specific image in mind when someone says “caveman.” But did these thick-browed, cave-dwelling early humans exist, or is this just a caricature created by popular culture? Today I Found Out digs into what we now know about the Stone Age, and how closely it matches up with these stereotypes.

The Demon Doodles of 1565

The Demon Doodles of 1565

In 16th century France, a mysterious book was published, filled with illustrations of 120 strange monsters and not a single word of text. Video essayist Hochelaga explores the imagery of The Drolatic Dreams of Pantagruel and its creepy, grotesque, and comical creatures, and what they might have meant.

The History of Chocolate

The History of Chocolate

Chocolate has been one of the world’s favorite confections for thousands of years. But it hasn’t always been the sweet treat we know and love today. Mental Floss host Justin Dodd takes us through the earliest known uses of cacao beans, and explains the process that turns it into chocolate.

The History of Need for Speed

The History of Need for Speed

With 24 released installments, and at least nine canceled ones, the Need for Speed video game franchise has been around since 1994. Noodle takes a look back at the popular racing series’ origins and evolution of the game, from its roots as a Road and Track tie-in to slick CG action. The opening animation alone is worth the watch.

Making a Samurai Helmet from Scratch

Making a Samurai Helmet from Scratch

Ilya from That Works has made some impressive historical weapons, but this is the first time he’s built a samurai helmet. He created the headgear with inspiration from the character Takeda in the game Naraka Bladepoint. The steel helmet is made from five pieces, with a two-piece Mempo mask and layered neck armor.

The History of Pretzels

The History of Pretzels

Now that we know about the history of mustard, it’s time to learn about one of its companion foods. Mental Floss’ Food History is here to explain where the first pretzels came from, how they evolved from a religious food into the popular snack we know and love today, and why we have both soft and hard versions.

How the Eames LCW Chair is Made

How the Eames LCW Chair is Made

As one of the most notable designs of the 20th century, the Eames LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) is an icon of mid-century modern furniture. Brandmade.TV looks back at the history of the chair, and goes inside the factory where Herman Miller continues to make these chairs by stacking, bending, and sanding plywood veneers.

The Battle of Cape Fear River

The Battle of Cape Fear River

(PG-13: Language) Want to know the true story of Blackbeard’s last stand? Look no further than the music video for Alestorm’s track The Battle of Cape Fear River. It’s just one of the pirate metal tracks off of their latest album Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum. Turn captions on for lyrics – including the guitar solo.

Why Do Electric Plugs Have Holes?

Why Do Electric Plugs Have Holes?

The reason that electric plugs typically have two or three metal prongs is very easy to explain. But what about those holes you see in the tips of the prongs? Silver Cymbal digs into the backstory and purpose of this mysterious design attribute and shines some light on the topic.

The Earth in One Day

The Earth in One Day

Imagine, if you will, that the entire 4.5 billion year history of the Earth was collapsed down to a 24-hour single day. Bright Side’s educational video does just that, taking significant events in the development of our world and giving us a relative sense of how closely together they played out.

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The History of Gummy Bears

The History of Gummy Bears

We love us some gummy bears. There’s something so perfect about their chewy texture, fruity flavors, and adorable form that makes them special. Mental Floss series Food History looks back at the origins and evolution of the tasty candy treat, which first took their bear-shaped form in the 1920s in Germany.

Why Cooper Black Is Everywhere

Why Cooper Black Is Everywhere

The font Cooper Black dates all the way back to 1922, and over its century in use has appeared everywhere from David Bowie albums to ramen noodles, to signs for neighborhood businesses. Vox digs into the history of this playful, yet legible serif typeface, and why it became so popular.

The History of French Fries

The History of French Fries

We love us some nice crispy French fries. Mental Floss host Justin Dodd digs into the origins of this fast food staple, its varieties, and why it’s become one of the most popular side dishes on earth. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a snack of potato chips and Tater Tots.

No-Nails Survival Shelter

No-Nails Survival Shelter

We may take the roof over our head for granted these days, but in the 18th century, families venturing into the interior of North America had to build their own shelters to survive the elements as they headed westward. Frontier lifestyle expert Jon Townsend shows us how they might have constructed a shelter without any nails.

The History of London Bridge

The History of London Bridge

The Romans built the first bridge across the Thames River in the 2nd century. Over the years, the structure has been replaced several times. In this episode of Unfinished London, host Jay Foreman provides an informative and entertaining exploration of the history of London Bridge, and why one of them is now located in Arizona.

The Evolution of macOS

The Evolution of macOS

Apple released its first Macintosh computer back in 1984, running one of the earliest graphical user interfaces for personal computers. The guys at Nobel Tech put together a retrospective of every version of the Macintosh operating system, from its first public release, System 0.97 to the latest version of macOS 12, Monterrey.

Why Upper and Lower Case Letters Exist

Why Upper and Lower Case Letters Exist

We’re grateful to have lower case letters, if only to limit people typing in ALL CAPS. The Generalist Papers digs into the history of letterforms in the English language on a quest to explain why we have two different versions of every character in the alphabet.

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Dead as a Doornail Explained

Dead as a Doornail Explained

We’ve all heard the expression “dead as a doornail,” but we certainly didn’t know its origin. History and weapon enthusiast Malcolm P.L. explains the true meaning of the phrase while demonstrating the building technique that inspired it.

The Legend of YouAreAnIdiot

The Legend of YouAreAnIdiot

In the early 2000s, a website made the rounds that wreaked havoc on many computers, slowing them to a crawl as attempts to close its Flash animated windows only spawned more windows. NationSquid looks back at the story of YouAreAnIdiot and why it drew curious internet users like moths to a flame.

The History of Orchestras (More or Less)

The History of Orchestras (More or Less)

Orchestras have been around for hundreds of years. But why is it that certain instruments can be in an orchestra and others aren’t? Why do they have so many strings? Composer and educator David Bruce answers these and other questions about the origins of orchestras in this good-humored history lesson.

Ridiculous Fashion Trends Throughout History

Ridiculous Fashion Trends Throughout History

Shoulder pads, bell-bottoms, and slap bracelets are a few of the sillier fashion trends we can think of, but as BlueJay’s video points out, those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kinds of stupid fads that gained popularity over the years. It’s only a matter of time before the Macaroni look makes a comeback.

The iPhone Before the iPhone

The iPhone Before the iPhone

The first iPhone was released in 2007. But it was far from the first attempt to create a touchscreen smartphone. Slidebean explains how an Apple spin-off called General Magic helped lay the groundwork for modern smartphones back in 1994. While their ideas had promise, they made a few critical errors which did them in.

The History of Pad Thai

The History of Pad Thai

With its mix of stir-fried noodles, protein, peanuts, veggies, and zesty condiments, pad thai is one delicious dish. Mental Floss series Food History delves into the relatively short history of the popular dish. While it was touted as Thailand’s national dish, its ingredients and origins came from other countries.

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